"It's becoming clearer to me that we made a mistake when we decided to privatise 100% of the rolling stock," Yakunin said in a report published by Bloomberg. RZD wants to manage around one-third of national freight wagon fleet and deploy wagons where they are needed.

Yakunin says private operators concentrate on the most lucrative traffic while leaving some customers without wagons. He also accused them of occupying freight terminals for too long and causing congestion on some lines.

RZD divided the bulk of its freight wagon fleet between two new companies – Freight One and Freight Two - which it set up initially as subsidiaries, with Freight One subsequently being privatised. There are also other private players in the market such as Globaltrans. According to analysis by SCI Verkehr, Germany, there has been extremely high procurement of freight wagons in Russia during the last two years, which has led to a surplus.

RZD faces a drop in income next year as the government wants to freeze tariffs for monopolies such as the railway to help reduce the rate of inflation and try to coax the economy out of recession.

Yakunin has yet to broach the idea of RZD getting back into the freight business with the government, but he believes it will be possible if an agreement can be reached between all parties involved.